Daniel Boyd is an Indigenous Australian multidisciplinary artist. His paintings, installations, and sculptures are informed by his Kudjla/Gangalu heritage, and examine Eurocentric narratives around Australia's colonial history.Read More
Through his signature 'dot' painting technique, Boyd presents visual manifestations of Indigenous collective memory and perception.
Born in Cairns in 1982, Boyd has Aboriginal and Vanuatuan heritage. He is descendent of Australia's Stolen Generation, where children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent were forcibly removed from their families as part of the country's assimilation policy.
Boyd moved to Canberra in his late teens to study a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University's School of Art. During his studies, he became deeply interested in the Indigenous histories of Australia, and began to question the nostalgic lens through which the country's colonial past was viewed.
During his final year of study in 2005 he began painting the 'Captain Cook' series—postcard-sized paintings that directly responded to works he had seen at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Gaining significant attention, this series marked the beginnings of Boyd's artistic career.
Often working from archival images, Daniel Boyd's figurative paintings are created in oil, watercolour, or charcoal, and overlaid with dots of archival glue or resin, to an effect similar to that of traditional Aboriginal art, or Pointillism.
Boyd is interested in representing multiple 'lenses'—both visually reflected in the shifting surface, as well as conceptually—as seeing an image or narrative from multiple perspectives. The blacked-out negative spaces between the dots perforate the viewer's reading of the image, carrying Boyd's suggestion of the holes in collective memory.
Emerging from his early 'Captain Cook' series of paintings, Boyd gained further recognition for his works such as Captain No Beard (2006). Working in the style of European historic and figurative paintings, Boyd's monumental canvases parodied iconic colonial works depicting the settler narrative of Captain Cook, commissioned soon after the federation of Australia.
For We Call Them Pirates Out Here (2006), a title referencing Wes Anderson's 2004 film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Boyd reimagines a famous historic painting from 1902 by Emanuel Phillip Fox, depicting the landing of Captain Cook landing at Botany Bay in 1770.
In Boyd's version, Cook wears an eyepatch and carries a 'Jolly Jack' flag—a hybrid of the Union Jack and the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger. The series title 'No Beard' alludes to the presumption by Indigenous Australian people upon Cook's landing that the captain and his crew were women due to their lack of facial hair, while also reworking historic narratives to point to the suggestion of piracy.
In 2014, Boyd won the prestigious Bulgari Art Award for his work Untitled (2014), which depicts a scene from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, referenced from a found archival photograph.
Using oil, pastel and archival glue, the large-scale monochromatic work references the home of Boyd's great great grandfather before he was enslaved at the sugarcane plantations in Queensland during the period of 'blackbirding' where Pacific Island people were forcibly indentured as labourers.
The dot technique was developed to represent a 'cultural lens', which allows for other understandings of history, while Boyd also pondered his own cultural inheritance and what was lost through imperialism that still affects his generation today.
In 2016, Boyd presented Far North at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. The exhibition comprised a series of paintings emerging from sources including family photographs and archival media, executed in the artist's signature dot technique. Untitled (BFK) (2015) depicts a waterfall near Giangurra in Cairns—an area intrinsically tied to Boyd's childhood memories.
Influenced by Édouard Glissant's Poetics of Relation, which likens the surface of the ocean to concepts of knowledge bubbling up to the shimmering waves, Boyd's Far North paintings visually manifest this texture in the way they change and respond to light.
In 2014, Boyd was the first Indigenous Australian artist to win the Bulgari Art Award. In 2015, he received the Young Artist Award at the Awards for the Visual Arts from Melbourne Art Foundation. In 2016, Boyd was awarded the International Studio and Curatorial Program Residency in New York City.
Daniel Boyd has exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions.
Select solo exhibitions by Daniel Boyd include Treasure Island, Kukje Gallery, Busan (2021); AND THE HORIZON SWALLOWED THE TORTOISE, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2020); Sandpiper Dance, STATION, Melbourne (2019); VIDEO WORKS, Carriageworks, Sydney (2019); Recalcitrant Radiance, Kukje Gallery, Busan (2019); Rainbow Serpent, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2018); Bitter Sweet, Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns (2017).
Select group exhibitions include Superblue Miami, Superblue, Miami (2021); In Between, Australian Pavilion, 17th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2021); Markings from Country, Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria (2021); Close Contact, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2021); This searing light, filtered for shadows, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2021).
Boyd has produced numerous public commissions and murals, including Seven Versions of the Sun, Kangaroo Point Park, Brisbane (2010); Darker Shade of Dark, QT Sydney (2012); a Macquarie Bank Commission, Macquarie Bank, Sydney (2014); Foyer Wall Commission, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2014); For Our Country, Australian War Memorial, Canberra (2018).
Daniel Boyd's Instagram can be found here.
Annie Curtis | Ocula | 2021
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